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Thomas & De Freitas v. Guyana
Latin America and the Caribbean
Data source:
Sabin Center
Court name:
Supreme Court
On May 21, 2021, two Guyanese citizens filed suit alleging that Guyana violated their constitutional rights by approving oil exploration licenses to an ExxonMobil-led group. Plaintiffs are Quadad de Freitas, an Indigenous youth, and Dr. Troy Thomas, a scientist and university lecturer. According to media reports, plaintiffs allege that the constitutional rights to a to a healthy environment, sustainable development, and the rights of future generations require the government to stop issuing licenses to activities that will exacerbate climate change. They point to evidence that the licenses could lead to billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions, which would imperil the coastal nation. On September 27, 2021, the Court added Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd. (ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary) as a Respondent. The matter is adjourned until June 2022. The Court updated the timelines for all parties’ document filings and further steps.

Key environmental legal questions:

Whether Guyana's issuing of oil exploration permits violates constitutional human rights
Suits against governments; Natural resource extraction; Environmental assessment and permitting; Human Rights